Trailer Park: Scorsese, Soderbergh, Spielberg… and Sandler

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Welcome to “Trailer Park,” our regular Friday feature where we collect the week’s new trailers all in one place and do a little “judging a book by its cover,” ranking them from worst to best and taking our best guess at what they may be hiding. This week, we’ve got new films from Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Steven Soderbergh, and Guy Ritchie — but don’t get too excited, there’s a new Adam Sandler movie too. Check ‘em all out after the jump.

Jack and Jill

What can you say about a trailer that announces “From the producers of Just Go With It and Grown-Upswith pride, as though that weren’t something to be hidden shamefully from the movie-going public? Directed (to no one’s surprise) by Adam Sandler’s go-to guy Dennis Dugan, this looks less like a real movie than a fake one created for Funny People, in which the star takes up his old “Gap Girls” character to play his own twin sister. The results are, from what we can see here (and remember, these are what the marketing folks consider the best stuff in the picture) horrifying, surreal, disturbing, and — most importantly — not funny, not even a little bit, not for a second. And Al Pacino, whatever they paid you, it wasn’t enough; you’re a long way from Serpico here, buddy. We’re nearly as upset about this trailer as George C. Scott is.

This Must Be the Place

So this looks… unusual. When Paolo Sorrentino’s tale of a middle-aged Nazi-hunting rock star (yep, that’s right) played at Cannes, reviews were mixed, and the filmmakers have yet to secure US. distribution. We can see why — it looks like a decidedly hard sell. And yet — Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Harry Dean Stanton, Judd Hirsch. With a cast like that, it must (at the very least) be interesting, right?

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

We should be more excited about this collaboration between Steven Spielberg (directing) and Peter Jackson (producing). Yet this trailer left us underwhelmed, and we think we know why: let’s call it “The Zemeckis effect,” named after filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, who has used the “performance capture” animation technique Spielberg is employing here for several creepy and rather forgettable pictures. This stuff just doesn’t look right, and while the personnel involved (including, not inconsiderably, the voice talents of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) will probably push us to check this out eventually, it’s not much of a priority from what we’ve seen so far.

The Thing

This Halloween release is reportedly a prequel to, and not a remake of, John Carpenter’s 1982 film (itself a remake of Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks’s 1951 picture The Thing from Another World). That sounds like semantics; they’re clearly hoping to recapture the vibe of snow-bound terror in Carpenter’s effort, and it looks as though they may just pull it off. Plus, y’know, it’s got Ramona Flowers in it, so there’s that.

John Carter

Disney’s adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough’s novel John Carter of Mars has been knocking around Hollywood for some time now; Robert Rodriguez, Jon Favreau, and Kerry Conran (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) were attached at various points over the last seven years, with Pixar’s Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Finding Nemo) finally taking on the job. This moody, evocative teaser hints at a film that could be either a visceral feast or a crashing bore; with Bryan Cranston, Mark Strong, and Friday Night Lights’ Taylor Kitsch in the cast, we’re hoping for the former.

Hugo

Sure, it looks a little cheesy, and we might be on the fence if it bore some random, unknown filmmaker’s name, But Hugo is, after all, Martin Scorsese’s first family film, so we’re willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. What’s indisputable is that it looks absolutely gorgeous (the cinematographer is the great Robert Richardson, whose credits include Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, and Scorsese’s The Aviator), and that, at least in this trailer, Scorsese is honestly capturing a palpable feeling of childlike wonder.

Higher Ground

Vera Farmiga has been one of our most consistently interesting actors since her breakthrough five years ago in The Departed; here, she not only stars but makes her directorial debut. A festival favorite (playing at this year’s Sundance, Tribeca, and Lost Angeles film fests), it certainly appears to have the potential for strident melodrama — but more intriguingly, Higher Ground looks as though it might be a rare, serious cinematic examination of the complexities of faith and religion. If Farmiga’s direction is half as compelling as her acting, this could be a must-see.

The Iron Lady

One of the rapturous pull-quotes for Higher Ground calls Farmiga “our generation’s Streep,” but Streep herself seems to be doing just fine, thank you very much. Her latest is The Iron Lady — not, as the title would indicate, a sequel to Iron Man, but a biopic of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This teaser is all about the reveal, scored improbably but effectively with the music from Moon; though we only get a flash of Streep as Thatcher, we can’t wait to see more.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

God knows, the last thing we need is another pirate movie — unless, of course, it’s from Aardman Animations, the comic geniuses behind Wallace and Gromit and Creature Comforts. This laugh-filled trailer is delightfully silly and hilariously funny (“…and some of you are just fish I’ve dressed up in a hat”); it almost looks good enough to serve as Sony’s penance for making The Smurfs. Almost.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Guy Ritchie’s energetic reimagining of the Sherlock Holmes tales was one of 2009’s nicest surprises, and thankfully all hands are back on deck for this Christmas follow-up. There aren’t many surprises to be found here — the sequel looks to be more of what made the first film a hit (explosions, atmosphere, fisticuffs, and homoerotic byplay), but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (Plus, Mad Men’s Jared Harris is an inspired choice for uber-villian Moriarty.)

Contagion

There is, it must be said, a feeling that you’re seeing an awful lot of Steven Soderbergh’s virus thriller in this plot-heavy trailer, and if you’re spoiler-sensitive, you may want to stay away. But this is a terrific, tense two-and-a-half minutes, showcasing the apocalyptic narrative, the stellar cast (Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow), and Soderbergh’s eye for jangling visuals. September 9th is the release date: mark it down.